Inside Ellis Island’s Immigrant Hospital
By Marjorie Ingall for Tablet Magazine
An effort is underway to save old buildings crumbling into dust
A lot of us have visited the beautiful museum at Ellis Island and pondered our collective and family history. Fewer, however, know that there is an abandoned hospital complex on the island, empty since 1954—and crumbling. If you’re relatively fit, possess a pair of closed-toe shoes, and are willing to sign a waiver saying you won’t sue anyone if some debris falls on your head, you can see it.
A nonprofit called Save Ellis Island, working with the National Park Service to preserve the old buildings, raises funds in part through eerie hard-hat tours of the hospital. I went on a tour in the company of the New York Adventure Club, which gives its participants access to additional areas of the complex.
I Survived, and Loved, a Road Trip with My Strictly Religious Sister
BY BONNIE MILLER RUBIN for Kveller
It was a dream—and a challenge. Could my two siblings and I–now with full calendars and spread across the country–relive the road trips of our youth that exist only in sepia-toned photos?
After talking about it for years, we finally made it happen in summer 2016: A ten day itinerary, including San Francisco, Carmel and Yosemite National Park. But while we were excited, we also needed to acknowledge that a lot had changed since we last shared the back seat of a Ford station wagon, blissfully content with our Etch-a-Sketch, Archie comic books and a hefty bag of Oreos.
For starters, two of us had spouses, whose interests and physical abilities had to be considered–along with their tolerance for our endless singing of Broadway show tunes. (After our 10th rendition of “You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun,” my husband might be reaching for a weapon of his own).
Aging in prison: An ‘invisible’ group
By Marc Blesoff for Jewish Sacred Aging
The United States has the largest prison population in the world.
According to Rabbi Sholom D. Lipskar, “…while sentencing options as diverse as financial penalties, atonement offerings, corporal punishment, capital punishment and even death directly by the hand of G-d are found in the Torah, the punishment of “incarceration” as we know it is nowhere to be found in traditional Torah-based Jewish law.”
Three years ago I ended my career as a criminal defense attorney. Since then, I have been facilitating both Wise Aging Workshops (from the Institute for Jewish Spirituality) and Conscious Aging Workshops (from the Institute Of Noetic Sciences, IONS). These programs are extremely compatible with one another and both highlight the opportunities to live well all the way through our last third of life.
Eliezer Ben-Yehuda and the Making of Modern Hebrew
BY DAVID SAIGER for myjewishlearning.com
The Lithuania-born visionary turned an ancient language into a spoken one.
When Eliezer Ben-Yehuda arrived in Palestine in 1881, Hebrew had not been the spoken language of the Jewish people since the time of the Bible. Yet, thanks to Ben-Yehuda, by 1922 enough Jewish pioneers were speaking Hebrew that the British Mandate authorities recognized it as the official language of Jews in Palestine.
Ben-Yehuda conceived of Jewish nationalism as both the return to the historical homeland in the Land of Israel, as well as the revival of the Hebrew language. To accomplish the latter, Ben-Yehuda needed to inspire a near impossible feat: transform Hebrew, which for centuries had been used only in study, into a modern spoken language.
Rembrandt's Jewish Vision
By Rabbi Meir Soloveichik for Mosaic
If Judaism’s idea of art is one that can truly represent our frail, fallible humanity, then Rembrandt, who captured faces “without any attempt to beautify them,” is the artist for Jews.
Of all places on earth, this one was surely the least likely to be the favored haunt of a Lithuanian rabbi. Even more surprising than the place itself was how the rabbi reacted to what he found there.
The time was World War I. The place was the National Gallery in London, repository of one of the most extraordinary collections of art on earth. The rabbi was Abraham Isaac Kook (1865-1935), a stellar product of the great Volozhin yeshiva in what is now Belarus and a genius of talmudic learning.
The war had left Rabbi Kook, at that point the chief rabbi of Jaffa in Palestine, stranded in England. Though most of his time was spent immersed in study, he sought inspiration among the works in the National Gallery. And in those halls, there was one painter in particular to whom he gravitated. We know about this thanks to a report by a Jewish sculptor in Jerusalem named Avram Melnikoff, who in later years would consult the rabbi on a matter of halakhah. In the course of their conversation, Rabbi Kook divulged the name of his favorite artist: Rembrandt van Rijn.